Elevate Difference

She's Shameless: Women Write About Growing Up, Rocking Out, and Fighting Back

Shameless is the magazine I needed as a teen. Instead, I relied on zines picked up from all-ages shows and record shops, with Ms. to fill in the gaps. Zines and Ms. have their place, but it’s heartening to see a need being met so well. In Shameless, young women have a chance to read (and write) about issues of real importance. The magazine’s title comes from its efforts to counter mainstream teen magazines, whose advertisements and features too often encourage shame of our bodies, brains, and differences.

Two of the magazine’s staff, Stacey May Fowles and Megan Griffith-Greene, have compiled the anthology She's Shameless, a slim book containing twenty-five short essays on living up to expectations, getting to know our bodies, developing relationships, learning from failures, and most of all, the power of the creative act. Most pieces are 2-3 pages long and will leave you wondering how anyone can say so much in so few words. In fact, my only complaint is that, with about 114 pages, the book ends too quickly. Contributors include previously anthologized writers, visual artists, activists, and musicians. When I read the contributor biographies I took copious notes because I look forward to reading the other work produced by these talented writers.

These stories are bravely, beautifully honest, the kind of honest that, in reading material as a teen, I only got from Changing Bodies, Changing Lives. As I read these stories, I could relate to so many experiences that I began talking aloud to the text. One story described the confusing experience of being fifteen with perfect poetry: “I had read The Story of O. But I had also just seen Disney’s The Little Mermaid.” I clapped my hand over my mouth in surprise, because I had the same pairing in my past.

My teen years were vivid, with seemingly ordinary moments transformed by Technicolor depths of pain, longing, confusion, and joy. The authors in She's Shameless let me know I am not alone in my clarity of memory. If we'd had this book, the creative women with whom I came of age would have read this anthology aloud to one another, shocked by how well these strangers could know our minds and hearts.

Written by: Lisa Rand, November 23rd 2009